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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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2S6                               LIFE  OF
of this plan. He continued to his latest years, how-
ever, in producing fragments of the finest and most
characteristic works, Fifteen are included in the
second volume of his collected works, and several of
these must have been written, or at least commenced,
between 1792 and 1795. Hunaboldt is acknowledged
to be one of the best translators, and his works on this
field of literature^ especially his " Agamemnon/' rank
with those of the first. If they occasionally seera
heavy, or un-German., the fault lies more in the rigidity*
of his principles in respect- to metre and rhythm, and in
the extreme difficulty of the works he had selected.
He   was,   however,   not   exclusively   employed   in
studying the character of Greek art., but also that of
modern," especially of German poetry.    The more the
ancient   poets  cultivated   his  sesthetical perceptions^
the less did he overlook the great works of his fellow-
countrymen.    And now, at the time  when he had
been so strengthened by his studies, fate introduced
Mm to those poets who? on the point of approaching
the ideal of art in emulation of the ancients, and of
perfecting their natural capabilities by theoretical cri-
ticism, could scarcely work, without a fellow-labourer
who had thoroughly mastered the knowledge of the
ancients.,  and whose judgment was not waxped by
modem prejudices,    How often Humboldt regretted
a modern or superficial comprehension of the Greeks
in other cotemporaries-^-in Herder, Woltmann, even
in Schlegel!    Schiller and Goethe needed a mind who
possessed as much knowledge of that former world as
sympathy for modern art3 as much independent know-
ledge as interest in the laboiirs of others.    As Lessing
was dead,  none could have sufficed but Humboldt.
He alone could fully enter into the plans of these
great men5 and assist them by criticism *and specula-
tion.    By the friendship of these three, the modern
philosophy of art was founded., partly by a more pro-
found study of the nature of the human imagination,
but principally by comparative criticism of ancient
saaA modem poetry.